Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 and 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Announcements

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro

Olympus has announced another addition to its line of high-quality professional lenses. The Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro, which has a field of view equivalent to 14-28mm in 35mm format, sports a pretty complex optical formula, with 14 elements in 11 groups, 10 of which are comprised of special type of glass to reduce various optical aberrations. With its constant maximum aperture of f/2.8, the lens offers superb optical performance even at its widest aperture. In addition to having high-end optics, the lens is engineered to be both dustproof and splashproof. All this does not come cheap though – the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro will retail for $1,299.99 when it starts shipping in June of this year.

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Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Announcement

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

Canon has announced an update to its 50mm f/1.8 lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM. Compared to its 50mm f/1.8 II predecessor, the new 50mm f/1.8 STM integrates a stepper motor for quieter autofocus operation, rounded 7-blade diaphragm, a minimum focus distance of 35cm and a metal mount. Best of all, these changes do not come with a significant price hike – the new 50mm f/1.8 STM is only $129, making it the most affordable Canon EF lens on the market. Due to the change in the mount, the 50mm f/1.8 STM gains 30 grams of weight. Performance-wise, it will be very similar to its predecessor.

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Photographing the Milky Way in the Cederberg

Melkweg_2048

A week ago I got the opportunity to spend a long weekend in South Africa’s Cederberg Wilderness Area. While there, we enjoyed two cloudless nights, during which the stars were exceptionally bright. In fact, in this remote part of the world the stars are always exceptionally bright compared to the cities we may be used to.

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IBIS High Resolution Mode – Amazing Technology

Olympus High Resolution Mode

Olympus definitely deserves high praises for its in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system in its OM-D E-M5 II mirrorless camera to shift its sensor in order to create multiple images, then merge them together to create one super high-resolution image. Thanks to this technology, the OM-D E-M5 II, which has a native resolution of 16 MP can shoot large 40 MP images. At first, this may sound like a marketing gimmick, but if you take a close look at how Olympus accomplishes this, you will be amazed by the technology. Being able to shift the sensor opens up a lot of opportunities, and if DSLR manufacturers implement this technology (which Pentax already has, with its K-3 II) and find ways to do it quickly and smoothly, it can seriously change the way we look at resolution. Let’s take a look at this technology in a little more detail and see its advantages and disadvantages.

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Dumbing Down the D7200 – What Nikon Doesn’t Get About Wildlife Photography

Verm-Lesser-Nighthawk-Dripping-Springs-9033

With the introduction of the D7200, Nikon yet again ignored the desires of wildlife photographers. They didn’t shrink the buffer like they did with the D7100 (in fact they gave it a welcome increase), but they retained the 17% frame rate slashing that started with the D7100 (in comparison to its predecessor the D7000).  Folks hoping Nikon would answer Canon’s release of the 10fps 7D Mark II are certainly disappointed. There are two things Nikon doesn’t seem to get about wildlife photography. First, wildlife photographers don’t want to pick either a DX or FX body to shoot with, we want one of each that will work together as a system – an FX body for great low-light capability and a DX option when we need extra reach. Both circumstances come up on an almost daily basis for the wildlife photographer. The second thing Nikon doesn’t get is that wildlife photography is no longer a pursuit reserved only for rich hobbyists.

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Zeiss Loxia 35mm and 50mm – Superb Performers

Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2

One of the biggest complaints the Sony full-frame mirrorless system has been receiving, is lack of good lens choices. With the launch of the Sony FE mount, Sony introduced only two high quality prime lenses in collaboration with Zeiss, the FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA and the FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA, both of which have been designed specifically for the short flange distance of the Sony A7 series cameras and have stellar optical characteristics. In September of 2014, Zeiss introduced two additional high quality primes for the Sony FE mount. Dubbed “Loxia”, these lenses are quite different from the Sony versions in a number of ways. First, they are both engineered and made by Zeiss, which means higher quality build and construction. Second, similar to many other Zeiss lenses, the Loxia line is manual focus only – and it is designed to be so. Third, they are also optimized for videographers, with a “DeClick” feature, which allows for smooth adjustment of aperture right on the lens. A number of our readers expressed interest in the Loxia lenses, so after having an opportunity to shoot with these gems, I was able to measure their optical performance in my lab. In this article, I would like to provide some information on the optical characteristics of the two Loxia lenses. Let’s start with the Loxia 35mm f/2:

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Does Fuji Cheat with its Sensors?

Fuji X-T1 ISO 3200 +0.85 EV

When testing cameras, it is not unusual to see a situation when one camera can produce results a bit darker or brighter than another. In some cases, lenses are to blame for this variance, since most lenses cannot ideally transmit all of the incoming light. What this means, is that a lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 could potentially transmit less light, which could be equivalent to say f/3.5 in terms of brightness. The latter number is what is often referred to as a “T-stop”, or Transmission-stop, which is basically an adjusted f-stop that takes into account this light loss. In other cases, the camera itself can be the source of brightness variance. Although manufacturers are supposed to adhere to an ISO standard that guides the process of determining the right brightness level for each ISO, there is usually still some variance between not only brands, but also between specific camera models. We won’t get into the question of why there are such variances. Instead, we will concentrate on implications of such variances to camera sensor comparisons and ratings. Particularly, we will be looking at exposure variances in Fuji cameras, such as the Fuji X-T1. Many photographers, including myself, have been fond of the way Fuji sensors render images, outputting very clean and pleasant-looking images, even at high ISOs. But are those ISOs real? And is Fuji doing something shady to make its images look better? Let’s take a closer look…

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Upcoming Reviews

Nikon D5500

I will be traveling out of country in April and before I leave, I have a few days to try to work on some reviews. Whether I will manage to produce a lot of content before my departure or not, I am planning to finish up the task upon my return. Lots of gear came out during the last year and having started my Sony mirrorless camera reviews, I intend to complete a few of those as well. Below is the list of gear that I currently have, which I am planning to review as soon as possible:

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Is There Really Anything ‘Wrong’ with Digital Camera Sales Volumes?

CIPA Data

There have been some interesting debates lately about what’s ‘wrong’ with the digital camera market as people try to understand the rather dramatic decline in unit sales that has been happening over the past 4 or 5 years, with volumes down by half from their peak. I let my old, porous brain muse on this for a while and have some perspectives to share. One way to look at this situation is to simply accept that there is nothing fundamentally ‘wrong’ with the camera market at all in terms of sales volumes. From a macro-economic perspective we could view the digital camera market as functioning exactly as every other market has done when a breakthrough technology burst onto its stage. If we look at the history of various product markets the basic rise and fall of market volumes are predictable when they have been impacted by fundamental technological shifts – in the case of cameras it was of seismic proportions going from film to digital. When any kind of ‘game changing’ technology takes hold in any market there are initial and dramatic volume surges as consumers leave their current technology and adopt the new one. That huge upward spike in initial demand then declines quickly as soon as the initial ‘change-over’ market demand for the new technology has been met. Product life-cycle planning is based on these fundamentals.

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